This Weekend: Glasgow Comic Con 2015!

This coming weekend at the CCA Glasgow, from Saturday 4th July to Sunday 5th July, Scotland’s comics scene will be celebrating one of the highlights of its year, with the milestone 5th Glasgow Comic Con!  I have fond memories of the first Glasgow Comic Con I attended back in 2011.  I wasn’t exhibiting or selling my wares, I was just there as a fan.  But the first issue of my debut comic, THE STANDARD – back when it was just a self-published comic released locally in Glasgow – was nominated for a SICBA, and I’m aware that this show was the first time many people became aware of me as a comics creator, meaning this was the beginning for a lot of the things that have gone on to be a part of my life: from career path to the friends I’ve made.  And with each passing year, no matter if I’m also attending Thought Bubble or New York Comic Con or anywhere else, Glasgow Comic Con always manages to be my most profitable convention, because of the passion and enthusiasm of Scottish comics readers in supporting local talent.

Me with some Glasgow comics pals in 2012. So young, so full of hope...
Me with some Glasgow comics pals in 2012. So young, so full of hope…

And that brings us to this year, where I’ll be returning to the show, with my debut series, THE STANDARD, complete, and my follow-up comic, AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE, also complete.  AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE is nominated for a SICBA Award, for Best Graphic Novel.  You can vote for us here.

I’ll be tabling at the show, along with AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE artist Iain Laurie, at the Art Studio venue.  We’re on Level 1, at Table 68:

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But we won’t just be selling our wares and hobnobbing at the SICBA awards ceremony.  You’ll also be able to find Iain and I at the “Owning Your Own Work!” panel on the Level 1 Workshop Room from 1:15pm-2pm, where we’ll be joined by Emma Beeby, Monty Nero, Gordon Rennie and Shaky Kane, talking about our various creator-owned comics projects.

On Sunday, Iain will be participating in the Big Comic Draw event.  I, meanwhile, will be participating in the “GLoW Goes Global” panel at 2:15pm-3pm, where I’ll be joined by my pals Sam Read, Harry French, Colin Bell, Garry Mac and Gary Chudleigh.  We’ll be talking about the writers group that has been running in Glasgow since 2011, of which I was a founding member, and where each of us have gone in our careers since contributing to the collective.

Glasgow Comic Con is always a fun weekend, and I’m sure that will be the case this year too.  If you’re attending, come along and say hello!

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Glasgow Comic Con 2014: THIS WEEKEND!

It’s that time of year again!  There’s a little less than a week to go until Scotland’s comic community comes together for Glasgow Comic Con.  The show will be at the CCA on Sauchiehall Street, on Saturday 5th July and Sunday 6th July. I’ll be at the con, promoting my various comic projects. You can find my table up on the Level 2 Club Room.

Like And Then Emily Was Gone? I’ll have the last remaining stock of the black-and-white small press editions of issues #1 and #2 before the colour edition debuts worldwide at the end of July (this may be your last chance to get those, as once this stock is sold out I won’t be getting any more!), and I’ll also have an exclusive black-and-white preview edition of And Then Emily Was Gone #3 – Glasgow readers will get to see it months before the rest of the world! I’ll also be selling a range of limited edition prints, which look stunning. Only available while stocks last.

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Like The Standard? Well, at last, the series is complete. The final two issues, issues #5 and #6, will be available to buy from my table, months before their general release, with convention exclusive covers. We also have limited stock of all the other issues to let readers get caught up on the whole series.

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Like Chris Connelly? Well, he drew the convention exclusive covers for The Standard #5 and #6! He’ll be sharing the table with me at the con to sign any copies of the books you buy. We’ll also be selling the first issue of our Glasgow sci-fi series, Bad Sun, and Chris will be selling some lovely original art, and – I believe – doing commissions.

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You’ll also be able to find me at a panel on the Saturday, at 12pm.  In the CCA cinema, I’ll be part of the “SICBA Best Comic or Graphic Novel: Meet The Shortlist” panel, hosted by Craig Nielson, where I’ll be joined by Colin Bell, Craig Collins, Gil Hatcher and Morag Kewell.  Come along to see us all chat up our various comics, and discuss the process of creating them and getting them out into the world.

All that, and my books are also nominated for a bunch of SICBA awards! The Standard is nominated for Best Comic, I’m nominated for Best Writer, and Iain Laurie is nominated for Best Artist for And Then Emily Was Gone. voting is open throughout Saturday 5th July at the SICBA voting booth in the CCA’s first floor bar. If you’re attending, make sure to vote!

Tickets for the show are still available from www.glasgowcomiccon.com. It’s always a great show, and this year we have top notch comic guests like Gail Simone, Howard Chaykin and Erik Larsen, as well as familiar faces from the Scottish comics scene. Come along, have a great time, and support one of Scotland’s fastest-growing creative industries!

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SICBA 2014 Nominees, Featuring John Lees Comics

A couple of days ago, the shortlist for this year’s Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance awards were announced.  And I’m pleased to report that my comics are nominated in three of the four categories.

The Standard was nominated for Best Comic or Graphic Novel, while I was nominated for Best Writer for my work on that series.  Iain Laurie, meanwhile, was nominated for best artist for his work on And Then Emily Was Gone.  Here’s the full shortlist of nominees:

Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel (supported by CCA: Glasgow)
Beginners Guide to Being Outside (published by Avery Hill Publishing Ltd.)
Crawl Hole (published by Craig Collins)
Crossing Borders (published by Rocket Puppy Press)
Dungeon Fun: Book One (published by Dogooder Comics)
The Standard #5 (published by ComixTribe)

Best Artist (supported by Homecoming Scotland)
Iain Laurie – And Then Emily Was Gone #3
Morag Kewell – Crossing Borders
Neil Slorance – Dungeon Fun: Book One

Best Writer (supported by Black Hearted Press)
Gill Hatcher – Beginners Guide to Being Outside
Colin Bell – Dungeon Fun: Book One
John Lees – The Standard #5

Best Cover (supported by Williams Bros. Brewing Co.)
Craig Collins, Iain Laurie and Derek Dow – Crawl Hole
Neil Slorance – Dungeon Fun: Book One
Jimmy Devlin – Saltire: Invasion

Voting is open throughout the first day of Glasgow Comic Con, on Saturday 5th July, at Glasgow’s CCA on Sauchiehall Street.  You can still buy tickets for the show over at the official website.  Congratulations and good luck to all my fellow nominees!

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AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE Nominated for 4 SICBA Awards!

On Friday, the official shortlist of nominees for Glasgow’s SICBA awards was announced, and I’m hugely excited to report that And Then Emily Was Gone – my upcoming project with artist Iain Laurie and letterer Colin Bell that’s set to debut at July’s Glasgow Comic Con – has swept the board, earning a nomination in every category.  Here is the shortlist in full:

Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel
Supported by CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts
(5 Nominees)

And Then Emily Was Gone #1
Anthology Three
Big in Japan
Dark Ascension
The Amateur Astronomer’s Journal

Best Writer
Supported by Mlitt in Comic Studies, University of Dundee
(3 Nominees)

John Lees for And Then Emily Was Gone #1
James Devlin for Dark Ascension
Neil Slorance for The Amateur Astronomer’s Journal

Best Artist
Supported by DJCAD, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design
(3 Nominees)

Iain Laurie for And Then Emily Was Gone #1
James Devlin for Dark Ascension
Neil Slorance for The Amateur Astronomer’s Journal

Best Cover
Supported by Commando Comics
(3 Nominees)

Iain Laurie for And Then Emily Was Gone #1
Morag Kewell for Big in Japan
Dave Alexander for Collected McBams

It’s an honour just to be nominated, and I’m in some prestigious company here.  But who I’m really rooting for is the immensely talented Iain Laurie in his categories, as he’s a fantastic artist hugely deserving of every bit of recognition he gets.

You can check out And Then Emily Was Gone and all the other nominated comics at Plan B Books in Parnie Street, Glasgow now, where they have a little SICBA viewing area set up.  But you’ll only be able to vote on Saturday 13th July at Glasgow Comic Con, in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street.  So buy your tickets, come along for a great comic-filled weekend, and VOTE!  You don’t have to vote for me… but you DO have to buy my comics!  BWAHAHAHAHA!

For more information, check out http://www.glasgowcomiccon.com.

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REVIEW: Jonbot VS Martha

This past week, I receieved news that at this year’s Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards, The Standard is nominated for Best Comic, and I’m nominated for Best Writer.  I was of course delighted to hear this news, but I was almost as delighted to see Best Writer recognition also given to my Glasgow League of Writers cohort Colin Bell, and to see his webcomic Jonbot VS Martha also make the Best Comic shortlist.  I have been a fan pretty much since the weekly series began, though I had missed some instalments here and there.  Upon deciding to review Jonbot VS Martha this week, I read the whole thing from the beginning to where we are now, and it made me appreciate anew just how great a job Colin Bell and artistic collaborator Neil Slorance have done.

I could explain the premise, but I think it’s better summuraized via the tongue-in-cheek “opening credits” sequence:

As you can see, Neil Slorance’s art is pretty rough and basic?  But you know what?  It totally works.  Yes, there are some inconsistencies: Martha’s hair color changes so often it surely must be a deliberate running gag.  But behind the simplicity of the characters and locations, Slorance manages to convey a surprisingly diverse range of emotions on those blank faces, crafting expressions that help a comedy beat hit home precisely.  And isn’t that one of the wonders of comic book art?  How, with just a few lines, an emotional connection can be established, and a character with heart and personality can be brought to life?  Take the eponymous Jonbot.  His face is two circles and a line.  But Slorance absolutely imbues those plain features with character, and those 2 circles and a line can convey a wide range of emotion.  A lot could be written about how much of that comes from Slorance himself, and how much of it is us mentally filling in the gaps, but that’s the topic of another piece, not this review.

As a final example of Slorance’s contribution, allow me to point to one of the best chapters of Jonbot VS Martha thus far, a psychadelic dream sequence that takes the form of an artistic jam session, a different artist drawing each panel, including a couple of familiar faces I’m fans of such as Iain Laurie and Dave Stokes.  Some of these images are rendered in far more detail than Slorance’s work, and they look stunning.  But still, it doesn’t quite feel like Jonbot VS Martha, and when Slorance comes back in the following chapter, it’s very much a welcome return.  In the same way that Greg Capullo has done with Batman (this may be the first time that Neil has been compared to Greg Capullo), Neil Slorance has branded this series with his own specific style, making it very difficult to imagine the story told any other way.

But with all this talk about Mr. Slorance, let us not forget Mr. Bell!  It’s quite funny, Colin Bell was at our table at Kapow Con giving out free sample mini-comics to promote the webcomic, and they seemed pretty popular with kids.  Parents would pick one up and be all like, “Here, Sarah, this is a wee comic with a robot in it!”  Oh, those poor children!  Though Neil Slorance’s art is quite cute and almost chibi in places, that is delightfully contrasted with Colin Bell’s caustic brand of humour.  There’s surealism, comedy so black it borders on bleak (“Daddy probably doesn’t have a soul”) and a liberal dose of bad language.  Not for the kiddies, then!

Though I’m sure he would ardently deny it, in person Bell is a bit of a loveable grump, a curmudgeon, and that absolutely comes through in his characterisation of Jonbot, so much so that I found it very hard not to imagine Jonbot speaking in Colin’s voice!  On this note, also bearing in mind how Jonbot’s relationship with his daughter has grown into the emotional core of  the overarching story, and considering that Bell himself is a new father, Jonbot VS Martha is actually a surprisingly personal comic, or at least as personal as a story with robots can be.  This relatable quality is likely what gives the series that added layer of depth beyond the laughs, which emerges at times as an almost poignant quality.

Not that Jonbot VS Martha is short of laughs.  The webcomic is regularly peppered with killer one-liners, and in the early stages of the series Bell showed a real knack for pacing out done-and-one stories around concise, precisely-aimed gags.  More recently, however, rather than resting on his laurels, Bell has experimented with how the constraints of the format and nature of the story can withstand a more longform narrative, with compelling results.  Colin is perhaps best known as a commentator on comics, writing reviews and articles for Newsarama and other sites and blogs, so it’s interesting to see how someone who clearly knows his stuff from an analytical perspective applying that knowledge to making a comic of his own.  I’m definitely keen to  see Colin Bell turn his storytelling skills to more ambitious projects in the future.

Jonbot VS Martha is one of my favourite webcomics, and I for one can’t wait until a bit more material is compiled, and we see it collected in a nice printed edition.  It will most definitely be an addition to my bookcase.  Until then, check out the webcomic for yourself, and see why it’s very deserving of its award nominations.

Jonbot VS Martha can be read online here.

SICBA Nominees: The Complete Shortlist

I announced on Wednesday that The Standard had been nominated for two Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards: Best Comic/Graphic Novel, and Best Writer.  Well, now I present the complete shortlist of nominees:

Best Writer
Craig Collins – Roachwell
Martin Conaghan – Burke and Hare
Gill Hatcher and Adam Smith – Go Wildlife!
John Lees – The Standard
Curt Sibling – King Evil

Best Artist
James Devlin – Dark Ascension: Confession
Will Pickering – Burke and Hare
Alex Ronald – Vampire Vixens
Curt Sibling – King Evil
Stevie White – Milk+

Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel
Burke and Hare
Dougie’s War
Ganjaman Presents
Go Wildlife!
King Evil
Milk+
Roachwell
The Standard
Team Girl Comic
Wasted

The SICBAs will be held at a special event following the Glasgow Comic Con on Saturday 18th June 2011.  You can read the shortlisted books and vote for your favorites at the Mackintosh Church from Monday 13th June to Friday 18th June.  Congratulations and good luck to all my fellow nominees!

The Standard Nominated For Awards!

On June 18th this year, the Glasgow Comic Con will be hosting the Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards.  Nominees were announced last night, and amongst them The Standard has been nominated for two SICBA awards:

Best Comic/Graphic Novel:  The Standard

Best Writer:  John Lees

Nominees were selected by a panel of respected figures from the comic world, and now voting opens to the public.  From Monday 13th June to Friday 17th June, a reading room will be set up at the Mackintosh Church, Arts and Heritage Centre, where you can read all the nominated books and cast your votes.  Winners will be announced at the SICBA Awards party on Saturday 18th June, being held at the Machintosh Church, Arts and Heritage Centre from 8pm.

It is truly an honor to be nominated for an award, and I’m really happy for everyone involved in The Standard with the exposure this recognition could bring.  Thanks to all of you for helping us get this far!

Remember, The Standard #1 is now available in print to buy on IndyPlanet for $3.99:

Buy The Standard #1 from IndyPlanet.

Plus, you can still buy the comic digitally for $1.99 from these platforms:

Graphic.ly

Wowio

DriveThruComics

MyDigitalComics